Dr Oscar Magenya giving his speech on behalf of the PS Agriculture
Over 150 scientists and practitioners in agriculture and rural development congregated in Naivasha for 2019 Soil Science Society of East Africa Conference (SSSEA) and Exhibition. The conference that took place between November 18-22, 2019 assembled participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia.
The theme of the conference was “Climate Smart Land and Water Management Innovations for Enhanced Food and Nutrition Security”.
The aim of the conference was to strengthen linkages between research, policy guidelines and private sector product development. The conference created a platform for scientists from KALRO and academia to present over 100 scientific papers on soil nutrition and management. Other targeted audience includes researchers, students, policy makers, public and private sector fertiliser industry players and farmers.
Officiating the conference on behalf of PS for Agriculture, State Department for Agricultural Research Director Dr Oscar Magenya said that the conference was relevant to Kenya achieving the Big Four Agenda – Food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare for all.
“If we don’t achieve the food security pillar, then all others will fail. Use the solutions you will come up with from this conference in addressing the challenges our farmers are facing,” he said.
Charles Warria, Kenya Markets Trust’s (KMT) Head of Research, Policy and Monitoring, noted with concern that research studies across East Africa reveal that soil acidity is affecting food basket areas in the region.
“While we agree with these research findings and their diagnosis of our soils, the utilisation of the information is still limited. Let us avail information to smallholder farmers to enable them access quality products and services for improved productivity,” he said.
KMT partnered with KALRO, AGRA and other stakeholders in organising the conference. A key input from KMT was the formation of a committee to synthesis key presentations into various thematic areas. The synthesis committee will produce knowledge sharing products on balance nutrition/ crop-specific fertiliser and soil acidity that will be shared with the private sector and policymakers.
A key focus in KMT’s efforts to scale the fertiliser and agricultural lime interventions is to increase awareness at policymakers, input firms and farmers level. One way to achieve this is through facilitating multi-stakeholder knowledge sharing forums. The Soil Science Society of East Africa is led by the East African Specialists committee for Soil Fertility with KARLO playing a key secretariat support role.
The soil conference comes at a time when the country is finalising the development of the National Agricultural Soil Management Policy (NASMP).